Several news outlets are cutting ties with freelance photographers after a bombshell report raised serious ethical questions about their work on Oct. 7.
On Wednesday night, media watchdog organization Honest Reporting published a report titled, “Broken Borders: AP & Reuters Pictures of Hamas Atrocities Raise Ethical Questions.”
The article explained it tracked down several photographers — Hassan Eslaiah, Yousef Masoud, Ali Mahmud, and Hatem Ali — whose names appeared on photo credits from pictures used by the Associated Press and CNN that detailed Hamas’ attack that left at least 1,400 people dead in Israel.
Additionally, the organization found a picture of Eslaiah receiving a kiss from Hamas leader Yahya Sinwa, who is also believed to be the mastermind of the attack.
In the hours following our expose, new material is still coming to light concerning Gazan freelance journalist Hassan Eslaiah whom both AP & CNN used on Oct. 7.
— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) November 8, 2023
Honest Reporting also found a picture credited to Eslaiah of Hamas terrorists trying to breach a fence of a kibbutz, as well as a picture of a burning house in the compound.
Meanwhile, the organization noted Ali Mahmud and Hatem Ali were in the right place at the right time to get pictures of hostages being taken to Gaza.
“Reuters has published pictures from two photojournalists who also happened to be at the border just in time for Hamas’ infiltration: Mohammed Fayq Abu Mostafa and Yasser Qudih,” the article explained.
The most obvious question this report raises is whether these photographers had advanced knowledge of the massacre and chose to say nothing before it happened. The AP and Reuters have denied any prior knowledge of the attacks.
Still, CNN and the AP cut ties with Eslaiah after Honest Reporting’s article was published.
Perhaps these are just hyper-aware photographers who got information that something was happening and decided to venture into a potential war zone without any helmets to do their job.
However, even if that is the case, at what point did they look around at what was happening and think it was a good idea to continue to follow terrorists on a rampage of death and destruction?
Perhaps it was fear. Perhaps it was callousness or some blind devotion to “getting the story.” But how could anyone just stand there and take pictures as though what they were recording was just a normal part of wartime photography after the fact and not an ongoing, pre-meditated massacre?
Israel’s Public Diplomacy Directorate at the Prime Minister’s office forcefully responded to Honest Reporting’s story, calling the photographers “accomplices to crimes against humanity.”
Of course, the world needs to see what happened in Israel to understand the atrocities. The depravity should be seared into our memory. But it has been well-documented how Hamas recorded and shared their massacre. The publication and celebration of their atrocities were clearly a part of their plan.
And the news outlets should have asked what motive Hamas would have for letting people take pictures of their massacre. It is not as though Hamas is a charity organization for its generosity and appreciation for life.
If a terrorist organization is letting people take pictures of its crimes, it is worth asking why they are doing so, and if publishing them is doing their bidding.
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